As expected the "dialogue" between the narco dictatorship and the civil opposition went nowhere. Yesterday the chair, Dominican Republic president, said euphemistically that talks were adjourned for the time being, letting ooze slightly his disappointment at not having been able to help the regime get what it so sorely wanted. On the other hand the chosen mediator of the regime, former Spanish premier Zapatero, could not hide its bitterness at his failures, and revealed his profound bias by threatening the opposition for not signing down. At least we gained something, Zapatero is now out of any negotiation after his words yesterday.
It could not have been otherwise. The regime would not have signed anything that would have implied a loosening of its control over the country, and even less on anything electoral where the risks of losing were only too real. And the opposition could not sing anything that would have recognized the illegal Constituent Assembly, while not giving at least a true semblant of fairness to the Venezuelan "electoral" system. It was wasted months for the opposition that had to prove again and again its democratic bent to the world for its support, while the regime at best saw the negotiation as a way to gain time. Right now the regime is winning at home and the opposition overseas, thus the real winner of this fiasco cannot be called yet.
While the opposition is still far from recovered from the shock of July 30 2017, the regime forges ahead. First the election was confirmed for April 22 (1). This way there is no possibility for the opposition to organize duly, for an international observation to organize thoroughly. In fact today I was told by contacts in such activities that an electoral observation mission needs at the very least 4 months to have some credibility. I was also told that in such conditions neither the OAS, UN or EU would sign on an observation agreement. I suppose Chinese and Cuban electoral specialists will have to do for observation on election day alone, what in Venezuela is called "accompanying".
Maduro signed the paper of the dialogue result that the opposition refused to sign, and rightly so if you read the draft. It is to be noted that the counter offer from the opposition was not even received/read by the regime negotiators that declared victory and promptly left. Maduro also decided that on February 17 and 18 there will be a mass collection of signatures by "el pueblo" to prove that we are all peace hungry and accept elections under Maduro's terms.
This did not stop the regime from other actions. One is the continuing saga of chopping the head of any credible leader, even if already discarded like Capriles. This one, already barred from running for even dog catcher, learned today that the new governor of Miranda, the ineffable young hope of chavismo Hector Rodriguez wanted to investigate Capriles for corruption and mismanagement. Interestingly when Capriles asked for the same, showing thick dossiers of corruption for his predecessor, Diosdado Cabello, the Venezuelan "justice" promptly field them on the dustier shelf available. Rodriguez did not even bother to show dossiers filled up with blank pages during his presentation.
Populism of the crassest nature is something that is put to good use. Maduro is unable to provide any positive result for his rule in the past 5 years. So he just prints money that get worthless by the day. He throws that money to his constituency in yet a new "youth bonus", which youth will quickly find out it can barely buy them a few loaves of bread. That is, this month because the inflation for January has been calculated at 86% and thus whatever bonus Maduro throws today will be worth half of it in less than 4 weeks. But heck, he owns the printing machine. More Monopoly notes are to come.
But the blitzkrieg at home cannot hide another type of blitzkrieg overseas. The forcing of the election in such a way is making other countries tone up their words and pull them for tougher sanction.
In no order of importance except for the last one, let's start with Peruvian president convoking the "Lima Group" next week to a reunion in Lima to discuss the election convocation. Let's note first that the Lima group has been growing from 12 to 14 members as Sait Lucia and Guyana joined, breaking the Caribbean common front. It is possible that Jamaica will join soon, and why not, Ecuador now that it got rid of Correa. The Lima group has also been called onto action. Only Canada has taken sanctions against Venezuela but French president Macron has told that it was time that sanctions were from neighboring countries. And there was the visit of Secretary of State Tillerson this week to remind them that the US will not intervene militarily in Venezuela and will not be alone taking all the blame for the sanctions. I suspect that after Tuesday some countries will start sanctions (Costa Rica and Colombia are already starting some punctual actions).
Then there was today's vote by the European Parliament asking for tougher sanctions, and to apply them also to relatives of the sanctioned. There is rumor already that some of the families comfortably established in Europe (gee, I wonder why) are moving to LatAm countries that may or may not receive them.
But the one that truly stung today was the International Court at the Hague deciding that there were enough merits presented on the abuses of the first half of 2017 to ask for an investigation by the Hague tribunal.
Such an investigation was promptly rejected by the regime. But the devil is in the details and already the general prosecutor, imposed by the illegal C.A., has announced that Maduro forbade the use of weapons to repress marches and thus any responsibility was to the ones who shot the guns that killed over a hundred of protesters in 2017 (that we know of). Interesting way to admit that there were violations but that The Hague should look elsewhere, on some loose cannons that the army was not able to control.... Yeah, right..... Never mind documented tortures, prolonged jail terms with trials, etc....
Meanwhile, the genocide continued as we learned that new dialysis patients died because the regime is not bringing the necessary filters for what is a crucial procedure for these people. Not only the regime denies the problem but it sent paramilitary thugs colectivos to disperse a protest from these condemned souls. Double murder if you ask me.
1) The election is and advanced presidential election and the winner will be sworn in on January 2019. Thus voting for a president on April 22 defies any logic, except the logic of despair from a regime that knows full well that by December 2018 the coming chaos may make it impossible to even organize an election, much less win it.